Sterling Hayden

American, 1916 - 1986

Sterling Hayden is best remembered as a leading man in western and noir films including Johnny Guitar and The Asphalt Jungle. Before his acting career, however, Hayden was an accomplished sailor; he took his first job on a schooner at the age of sixteen and soon earned his master’s license, which allowed him to be awarded his first command at twenty-two. He sailed around the world several times in every role from fisherman to fireman to skipper. His athletic good looks and impressive height led to work as a model and actor and the appellation “The Beautiful Blond Viking God,” but he often professed a distaste for acting and claimed he stuck to the career only to fund his seafaring. He wrote two critically-acclaimed books about sailing memories, one an autobiography and the other a novel.